Navigating ‘The Great Resignation’
January 28, 2022 | BY Simcha Felder
The term “The Great Resignation” has become very fashionable over the last several months as a way to describe the rising trend of employees quitting their jobs. Across many different industries, companies of all sizes are struggling to maintain and staff their workforce during ‘The Great Resignation.’ According to the Wall Street Journal, in the first 10 months of 2021, America’s workers handed in nearly 39 million resignations – the highest number since tracking began in 2000. Data just released by the U.S. Labor Department for November added another 4.5 million workers who quit their jobs – a new record high for resignations in a single month. That means that 3% of all American workers voluntarily left their positions in November alone.
The truth is, the ‘Great Resignation’ is more than people simply quitting and walking away. What we are seeing is huge numbers of employees moving around within the job market, rather than just leaving it altogether. These workers are looking for a better work-life balance and making deliberate choices as to where their careers are heading next. “People are finding jobs that give them the right pay, benefits and work arrangements in the longer term,” says Anthony Klotz, the Texas A&M University organizational psychologist who coined the term ‘Great Resignation.’
While burnout – long an issue for American workers – is seen as the primary cause of ‘The Great Resignation,’ it is not the only factor. The pandemic has made employees change their priorities and rethink their work expectations. These “pandemic epiphanies,” as Klotz calls them, have helped many people change what they want to get, and eventually, what they actually do get, out of work.
Businesses need to react, as this trend does not appear to be slowing down. Employers know that it takes significantly longer to recruit and train someone than it does for that person to give their two-week notice and depart. The obvious solution is that most businesses need to consider bolstering their retention efforts of current employees. A recent Harvard Business Review article highlights six measures that can have a consequential impact on retaining employees:
1. Incentivize Loyalty
Re-evaluate your employee compensation packages and ensure it compares to industry standards. If an employee feels like they are not being paid well for the work that they do, the current employment climate makes it is easier than ever to seek higher-paid opportunity elsewhere. Most employees believe in loyalty, but they want their business leaders to believe in it too.
2. Provide Opportunities to Grow
Forward-thinking organizations have been doing retention interviews over the past months — asking each employee what it would take for them to stay. Show current employees that you value them even more than potential new hires by providing them with new opportunities to grow and advance.
3. Give Employees a Sense of Purpose
Purpose is the reason your organization exists, and it’s the reason people choose to join and stay. Recent research from McKinsey confirms that the top two reasons employees cited for leaving were that they didn’t feel their work was valued by their organization (54%), and that they lacked a sense of belonging at work (51%). Employees want to feel that what they do matters, and that begins by shifting your culture to one where people believe in the work they are doing.
4. Prioritize Connections
Make time to connect and build relationships with your people. Social connections have a significant impact on productivity and employees routinely place a higher priority on having a good relationship with coworkers than on many other job attributes.
5. Take Care of your Employees and their Families
Provide mental health resources, subsidize day care, and give more paid time off. Providing these benefits will easily outweigh the cost of hiring and training new employees.
6. Embrace Flexibility
The future of work is going to be flexible work environments in terms of location, hours and job description. If you can, now is the time to embrace it. It may even be helpful to have employees form teams to provide input on what their future work should look like. When people help build their dream home, they want to live in it.
‘The Great Resignation’ is a cultural phenomenon created by the pandemic and it is impacting businesses across the country. The benefits of the measures listed above will not only help you retain good employees, it will make your business more attractive to new hires as well. Don’t resign yourself to the continuing tide of resignations and the constant struggles of recruitment. Decisive action is what’s needed, and we’re here to help.